The Nigerian House of Representatives is going on a two week break to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which causes a deadly respiratory disease called COVID-19.
The coronavirus has spread to over 60 countries, including three in Africa, killed more than 3000 people globally and infected over 80 thousand. There is no cure for the disease, and the best way is prevention, health officials say. Dozens of vaccines being developed would not be ready until another year or two from now, experts said in Washington DC early this week.
Nigerian lawmakers took the decision to go on break on Tuesday while adopting a contribution by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, according to local reports.
The reports said the motion is titled “Emergency response to the dreaded Coronavirus” brought before the house by Unyinye Idem.
An Italian who works in Nigeria returned from Milan on Tuesday and tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
At least 39 people who came in contact with the patient have been quarantined in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, local newspapers reported on Sunday.
In addition, at least five foreign nationals were reported to have been placed under surveillance in Calabar, Cross River State, Southern Nigeria, by government after they flew into the city on Friday.
The Commissioner of Health in the state, Beta Edu, said the five persons were two Europeans, one Indian and two Chinese.
The confirmed case of coronavirus infection in Nigeria is the third case in Africa, the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.
On February 14, 2020, Egypt announced the first case of Covid-19 in Africa. Algeria declared it had a case on Tuesday, an Italian adult who arrived in the country on 17 February.
With the number of infected people multiplying around the world, Nigerian Minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was a guest on Channels Television Sunday Politics, said there was total vigilance across all points of entry into Nigeria, including land, sea and airports.
“On January 31, we had an inter-ministerial and multi-sectoral meeting in Abuja with services related to coming into the country.
“We have focused largely on our international airports; the five, of which four are functional at the moment. The possibility of importation by sea is remote but we are not taking our eyes away from there, the Ports health authorities are also with us in our conversations,” he said.
Many health officials from around the world are calling for vigilance to contain the spread of the virus and limit the number of casualties.
However, local newspapers in Nigeria reported on Sunday that doctors in the southeastern state of Enugu were embarking on strike.
Enugu Metro reported that there was “confusion” and “agony” among patients at the ESUT Hospital Parklane Enugu as resident doctors embarked on a five-day “warning strike” to press for better conditions of service.
The publication quoted officials at the ESUTH Parklane branch of the Association of resident doctors as saying that a letter was written to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Friday 28 February 2020 to inform him resident doctors would embark on the warning strike the following day on Saturday.
“We also told him that we shall follow it up with an indefinite strike if nothing was done to address their demands for better pay and condition of service,” an official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter said.
The official said the decision to embark on strike was taken on Thursday 27 February 2020, after the Association’s emergency meeting to appraise the conditions under which doctors are working at the hospital.
The resident doctors said there was a lingering brain drain among ESUTH resident doctors as a result of the poor conditions.